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Supreme Court verdict on Temple Mount distancing

Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 15:34 On Tuesday, December 6, Supreme Court Justices accepted Honenu’s petition and ruled that the practice of the police to require Jews to sign a letter of undertaking as a condition for ascending the Temple Mount is illegal. Dozens of Jews have been distanced from the Temple Mount by means of this practice. See Temple Mount distancing regulations revealed for more information on the topic. The verdict handed down by Justices Danziger, Shaham and Solberg dealt with the petition filed by Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado on behalf of two Jews who ascended the Temple Mount, were detained by the police and then told that they were not allowed to return to the Temple Mount until a hearing was held. The petitioners claimed that the hearing was held contrary to police regulations and that the order distancing them from the Temple Mount was itself a violation of internal police regulations and the law. The police demanded that the two detainees sign on a heavy-handed letter of undertaking and until then not ascend the Temple Mount. During the course of the deliberations Attorney Aviad Visuli revealed police regulations concerning distancing from the Temple Mount that turned out to be not only not implemented by the police but rather violated on a daily basis. Following the petition the police retracted their stance against the two petitioners. After eight months distancing the petitioners from the site, the police unconditionally permitted both of them to ascend the Temple Mount. Simultaneously the State of Israel announced that it intends to alter the regulations and to formulate a new letter of undertaking. Subsequently Yado announced that the petition was superfluous and had become merely theoretical, and demanded that the expenses of the petition be imposed on the State. “It seems to me that indeed there was a demand to sign on a letter of undertaking as a condition to exercising the right to ascend the Temple Mount, contrary to the police regulations, as detailed above, and illegal.” wrote Justice Solberg in his verdict. “… The manner in which the individuals in the police force conducted themselves with the petitioners and their attorney – whether by act or by omission – caused the petitioners to think that a prohibition to ascend the Temple Mount had been imposed on them. It appears that there were no legal grounds for preventing the ascent to the Temple Mount, in any event, the required procedures to that end were not carried out.” Justice Solberg added that, “The petitioners, by their conduct, did not make it easy for the police at an important and sensitive site such as the Temple Mount, however it is difficult to avoid the concern that it was convenient for certain individuals in the police force to prevent the ascent to the Temple Mount de facto if not de jure.” Justice Solberg accepted Yado’s request, ruled that the State will pay 5,000 NIS expenses to the petitioners, and wrote that, “The requests by the petitioners’ attorney prior to filing the petition were left unanswered, and as far as they [the petitioners] were concerned, there was no choice other than to file the petition, which yielded results.” Honenu welcomed the verdict, which has ramifications for many civil suits filed by Honenu on behalf of individuals distanced from the Temple Mount, and many other similar suits which are being prepared prior to filing. Honenu Attorney Menasheh Yado, who represented the petitioners, “The explicit statement of the Supreme Court that the Israeli Police acted contrary to the law and contrary to regulations is an instance of ‘the emperor has no clothes’. This was obvious and known all the years that we have been fighting this illegal conduct. However to our great sorrow we encountered unreceptiveness, contempt, and apathy on the part of the police, the Civil Department of the District Attorney of Jerusalem, and the High Court of Justice Department. These three bodies not only violated the regulation but rather hid it from the public. Today the court is coming out and saying: There is law in the State of Israel.” Honenu: “This important verdict proves what we have been claiming in recent years. The police have been systematically trampling the law on a regular basis, time after time, for no reason, distancing Jews [from the Temple Mount] contrary to their own regulations. We hope that the courts will award suitable compensation to all of the visitors to the Temple Mount who were illegally distanced from the Temple Mount. We also hope that the police and the Attorney General’s office will clean house and cease violating freedom of worship and movement of Jews in the holiest site in the world.”

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